Power Mac G4 cooling project: Phase 1 - The plan

I am excited to report that I am ready to kick off the Power Mac G4 cooling project. I have gathered all of the hardware I need in order to move forward. The goal is to incrementally upgrade the cooling fans and experiment with different intake/exhaust orientations all while monitoring the pertinent temperatures inside the case. All temperatures will be compared against the temperature of the original fans in their original locations. I will start simple by working with the existing fans and their mounting locations. Then I will move onto upgrading the existing fans while maintaining the same mounting locations. Ultimately the goal will be to add additional fans by changing the location of the hard drives and utilizing the liberated floor space of the case. Any case modification will have to absolutely look professional and clean. The ultimate goal is still in the brainstorming stages, the project will build up to that point. I want the project to be incremental so that it will benefit users of all comfort levels. I imagine that cutting up Power Mac cases may not be for everyone.

I have a hardware solution to monitor temperatures. I will be using a NZXT Sentry 2 to monitor the temperatures of 5 locations in my Power Mac G4 Quicksilver. The Sentry 2 was a pleasant surprise. It monitors two more locations than the other product I was looking at. The Sentry 2 also offers fan control in addition to temperature monitoring. The idea was to use this to temporarily monitor the temperatures during this project however I may wind up using it permanently some how. I was also able to buy it locally so I did not have to pay shipping.

I will be monitoring the...

Intake temperature

Exhaust temperature

RAM temperature

GPU temperature

CPU temperature

This will be a fun project. I look forward to sharing it with you all.

Flash is really dead

I know I sound like captain obvious here. I am also sure that 99.9999998% of you reading this blog would never humor the thought of running flash on a PowerPC Mac OS. However I just saw something very serious on the TenFourFox Development blog. Cameron Kaiser wrote about a full blown flash exploit. This vulnerability is as serious as they come. You can read more about it at the link above.

You may see or know people who choose to roll the dice and run flash on a PowerPC Mac OS in 2014. Some even go to lengths as far as tricking websites into thinking they have a later version than what they do, while in reality they have the same old insecure version under the hood. I've heard some arguments for it. "Most of the bad stuff on the web is written for Intel macs, it won't run on my PowerPC." "The chances of me getting hit are so astronomically low." The first claim is simply not true when it comes to this new exploit as it will run on a PowerPC mac. The second argument is simply a gamble. We here at PowerPC Liberation will not gamble with security or advise people to do so, no matter how "good" the odds are.

The good news is that there are plenty of flash alternatives at our disposal. We just need to adapt and implement them. Dan at PPC Luddite has a whole section of his blog dedicated to flash alternatives. When you start up TenFourFox, its start page also gives you links to QuickTime enabler and MacTubes enabler.

We have plenty of good options to get around using flash on our Power Macs. I know you already knew this, but just in case you didn't, it is time to put flash to rest on Power Macs, end of story.

Unexpected inspiration

This is more of a general computing entry than it is a technical one.

A large portion of my job is supporting guest speakers and special events. Every Friday we have an astronaut come in and speak to the public. This past Friday was no different. I was asked to support Colonel Jerry L. Ross during his presentation. My actual task was to simply insure that his microphone and power point worked properly. During these events it can be easy to focus on the technology more than the speakers message to their audience. This event was technically simple, therefore I was able to listen to his message. I am thankful I was able to, I took something away from it that you all may appreciate.

During the middle of his speech Colonel Ross talked about how early he became interested in the US space program. When he was very young he scrap booked about the space program and by the age of ten he decided he was going to be a part of it. This was not just a kid committing the "When I grow up" cliche. You know, the "I want to be a doctor" or "I want to be a scientist". Prior to this point he had daydreamed about it. From this point forward It was a calculated decision. That is rather ambitious for a ten year old if you ask me. He then informed the audience that he was not the best student. That may strike you as odd. Many people, including myself are quick to assume that brilliant people, such as astronauts, must have been good students. What he said next really resonated with me. I wish I had wrote down exactly what he said but I will try to poorly paraphrase it. When you fail you don't quit. Take a step back and look at the situation. See what you can do differently and keep at it. He informed us that he often had to do that academically. It was a real challenge for him that he had to work through.

When I thought about what Colonel Ross had just told us and then paired that with his career, two things stood out to me. He really did practice what he had just said, when he met challenges and failures he did not quit. He kept at it, trying different approaches and solutions until he succeeded. It was also very obvious that the man has incredible resolve. He decided at the age of ten he was going to be an astronaut and he absolutely accomplished that and then some.

You may be wondering what that has to do with us. I know there are plenty of readers here who have already made the switch to a free/open/secure OS. Now I am going to speculate that there may be readers here who are still on the fence about making the switch. Maybe you have one foot in the pool but you often get intimidated or aggravated. I would say that I am still in a journeyman phase myself. I have an x86 Debian Wheezy Machine at work and two PowerPC Debian Wheezy Machines at home, all of which are daily driven. With that being said I am not a master by any stretch of the imagination. Challenges still arise for me. It is easy to get aggravated and maybe even think thoughts such as "This is a lot easier on Windows or OS X" or "I'll never figure this out." This where Colonel Ross's words really apply to me. When you fail you don't quit. Take a step back and look at the situation. See what you can do differently and keep at it. When I heard him say that I thought to myself, "That's a great way to look at challenges." and "If I applied that same resolve to computing could anything really stop me?" I can already tell you from first hand experience, there is nothing like the feeling of meeting a computing challenge head on and coming out on top. The learning and experience you gain as result is priceless.

That is what I really want to impress upon you all. I know taking the plunge from an easy environment like Windows or OS X into the world of free and open source software can be intimidating. I have experienced that first hand, I still hit bumps in the road. When you take the plunge it will be challenging. If you want to make the transition to becoming a more empowered user, start by simply making the decision. Decide that no matter what, you will become an empowered user. If any challenges arise you will meet them head on. Research them and keep attacking them until you overcome them. Not only will you accomplish your goal, but you will have learned and experienced so much along the way.

I really enjoyed the message and figured that you all might enjoy it as well. I hope it as enjoyable for you as it was for me.

A final push against TPP

I'm sure many of you know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam have been working on for almost 10 years.  Well, they have recently been trying harder than ever to get it passed, but thanks to over 3 million people speaking out against it so far they have agreed to meet with OpenMedia, an international nonprofit that fights for internet rights and freedoms.

OpenMedia are making a final push to get an online petition and feedback from people to help guide them at these meetings with the TPP people.  You don't need to live in one of the nations above to sign the online petition and share your thoughts.  The link is below.

OpenMedia - Face to Face with Internet Censorship

The TPP will increase internet censorship and decrease privacy, so have your say while they're listening.